Lionesses' Alessia Russo says she's 'exhausted' after Euros
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In a thrilling showdown that went all the way to the second period of extra time, the England Women’s Senior Squad clinched the victory from Germany in front of a record Euro finals crowd of almost 90,000 in Wembley Stadium on Sunday night. Despite forming the most successful English team, male or female, in over 50 years, research by RIFT Tax Refunds found that their average annual income of £71,131 is just over one percent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s £6.19million salary. Although men and women receive the same appearance pay when playing for England, salaries at club level are up to 100 times greater in the Premier League than they are in the Women’s Super League.
Since early 2020, the FA has ensured that women and men receive equal pay in match fees and bonuses for a senior international cap.
Each match for England is said to net the players £2,000, which usually gets donated to charity.
For winning the Euros, the Lionesses will also receive bonuses of £55,000 each from the FA.
However, vast differences remain in the prize money dispensed by tournament organisers, with UEFA reportedly awarding just under £1.3million to the winning women’s Euros squad, relative to the £12million the men would have taken home had they won last year’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.
The gulf in rates of pay between men and women in football is even starker in professional league football.
Since its introduction in 2011, the English FA Women’s Super League (WSL) has become one of the most highly competitive competitions in football, attracting talent from around the world.
Although the stars of the league earn in excess of £200,000 a year, salaries start at around £20,000, pricing many out of the game entirely.
According to an analysis by RIFT Tax Refunds, the 23 women on England’s champion team earn on average £71,131 per year.
According to football finance expert and The Price of Football author Kieran Maguire, the average annual salary in the men’s Premier League is £2.7million per year, a hundred times more than the £27,000 average in the WSL.
The Premier League average is dragged upwards by a few incredibly high earners, notably Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Manchester forward alone takes home £6.19million a year, almost 100 times more than the Lionesses’ average and almost four times as much as the entire squad’s combined take of £1.64million.
According to RIFT Tax Refunds, Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, David De Gea and Mohamed Salah all have weekly salaries higher than the annual income of England women’s stars Leah Williamson, Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby.
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Mr Maguire said: “Although we can expect this gap to decrease, in absolute terms it will increase.
“This reflects the ability of the Premier League to bring in money.
“The Premier League is a global product, which cannot yet be said for the Women’s Super League.
“A team like Manchester United can bring in £100million from ticket sales alone. Attendance is lower and tickets are cheaper for women’s games.”
He added: “Attendance currently averages 2,000 per game, and the FA is pushing to get that to 6,000.
“The best way to do that is good football.”
Although the sport has come a long way, the effective ban on women’s football by the FA between 1921 and 1971 cast a long shadow.
Decades of underinvestment and a lack of visibility meant revenue streams were scarce, but things are improving.
Figures from the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) show viewing hours of the WSL nearly quadrupled in the last year, from around 8.8 million for the 2020/21 season to 34 million in 2021/22.
According to Sky Sports, television audiences for the competition are growing, with an average of 125,000 people now tuning in to each game.
In anticipation of the Euros, the WSL secured a broadcasting deal with the BBC ensuring coverage of at least 22 games throughout the season, of which a minimum of 18 would air on BBC One and BBC Two.
Tickets to the Wembley final on July 31 sold out in less than an hour, the attending crowd of 87,192 being the biggest for a Euros football match with either men or women.
Women’s sport in the UK could generate over £1billion a year in revenue by 2030, according to Closing the Visibility Gap, a 2021 study by the WST.
The report estimated that women’s sport drew in £350million in revenue last year, highlighting that two-thirds of UK sports fans followed some form of women’s sport and that interest was growing fast.
Nevertheless, with Premier League clubs raking in over £6billion last season, there remains a lot of ground to cover.
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